Well.. Welcome to Amsterdam. We are sitting here on a train to London, and I'm finding it quite hard to know where to start.
What an amazing city, cold, very liveable, cold, absolutely stunning, cold, smokey, and did i mention cold? Coming from sunny Queensland it was quite a shock to the system to get off that plane in Amsterdam, we were prepared for it luckily.
We jumped in a cab quite easily and headed to our hotel, the drive is always eye opening, as we twisted and turned not only down streets and alleyways but along tramlines and bike lanes. Speaking of bikes, Wow. We were told that there are more bikes to actual people here, but to see it for yourself is another thing. They are everywhere, it took a day or two to realise just how their road system worked, and luckily for us we did not get hit!
We walked the streets most days, as the city is dense and quite small, we found it easy to find our way around on foot, and we found we discovered a whole lot more this way rather than the trams. The absolute beauty of this place never ceased to amaze us, every corner we turned was a whole new scenery, and another street of little shops that we could wander at our own pace.
Now the cafes, yes we all know Amsterdam is 100% weed friendly, but id like to say maybe 200% weed friendly, there was no need to go and sit in one of the infamous cafes as walking the streets was enough for a contact high. There was an array of ice cream shops, lollypops and candy, bongs, joints, cups of teas, plants, and grow your own using seeds, coming from such a babied country like Australia, it was a bit of an eye opener to have this advertised so vastly. Regular cigarettes are just as popular here, and everywhere is smoke friendly, I can say I'm not a huge fan of it, seeing as all I wanted to do was enjoy a meal in a street cafe and people watch, and personally the smoke is too much for me while eating.
Diamonds are a huge part of the Netherlands, and we stumbled across the diamond museum, and with a free entry we decided to have a look. I was in my element, looking at so many stones that were worth a mint. We were able to see the worlds largest uncut diamond, a replica royal crown, and watch diamond cutters do what they do best. One of the workers sparked a conversation with us and was kind enough to tell us all about the life of a diamond, he was currently half way through cutting a tiny little diamond into a brilliant cut, and he let us hold the tools and look through his glass at exactly what he was doing. One of the most surprising thing he shared with us after we told him we were Australian, was that currently Australia has the most colourful and sort after diamonds, he says "beautiful, colourful, best diamonds" in broken english. "From the mine, to your finger" cant beat that advertising slogan.
Another huge unique factor of Amsterdam is the sex industry. I was expecting it to be really unsafe, seedy and a not so comfortable to place to be, but the red light district is fantastic. It was exciting just walking the streets and watching the people, and yes the infamous girls in the red windows of almost all buildings. We decided to play it safe (well mostly me) and went to the most tourist friendly live sex show, when in Amsterdam right. It was interesting, not what we were expecting what so ever, and no i wont go into detail, but luckily it wasn't as hard core as some other places available to go to.
We did do a few touristy things such as the hop on hop off bus (which was a waste as we covered all these areas on foot already) we also did a city lights boast cruise through the canals, this wasn't too bad, had to be done. One of the main things we did do, was a tour to the country to see the windmills, visit a small fishing village, and go to a cheese making factory. This could have been better as it was a massive group of 50 or so people, but in saying that, we saw the windmills and that was a must.
Being christmas time the city is all lit up with lights, every alleyway, and street had beautiful displays, and countless christmas trees, a few ice skating rinks and just very happy and friendly people.
I cannot fault this city.
We love Amsterdam.